Mentoring

I'm always happy to talk with people considering Pardee RAND or policy work more broadly. Email me or just book a time on my calendar: I'm happy to share what I've learned about

  • PhD programs (from pre-application to dissertation)

  • Considering national security policy but don't have any background in the field? I was there in 2020, and I can help you now

  • Positioning yourself within the Effective Altruism community

  • Any advice you'd like on the Free Ideas I have listed

Advice

A policy analyst needs three things: no more, and no less.

  1. The ability to gather information. This can take many forms: skill at interviews, at meta-analysis, at machine learning. You need at least one trick up your sleeve, and being able to combine two is useful.

  2. The ability to write. Actually sitting down and producing words is an incredibly difficult talent. Making them good is even harder.

  3. An understanding of the world. Get lunch with a trans sex worker and a crypto-billionaire, and call each a friend. Know the structure of your government like the back of your hand. Convert every number into a per-capita GDP-deflated value. Understand how people think and dream. Parse papers for how they're lying to you until it's reflexive. Read history.

If you don't have all three, you won't be able to produce original work, you won't be able to explain what you've found, or you will produce original work that is critically wrong in the details. If you are missing one of those three, it's worth thinking about how to improve at it.